Cross country teams reloaded for another race to state meet

WOLVES HIT GROUND RUNNING



Senior Laura Moser and the Sequim High Wolves hope to return to the medal stand at the class 2A meet this fall after placing fourth  in 2006.

Cross country teams reloaded for another race to state meet

By Michael Dashiell
Staff writer

Harold Huff has three priorities for his cross country athletes, and the first two don’t include winning.

Staying healthy and having fun come before beating other teams, says Sequim’s coach.

But after watching both boys and girls teams take West Central District’s 2006 titles and place fourth and 10th, respectively, at state, Huff admits, “It seems to work.”

For a pair of teams that lost their longtime leaders, Sequim’s cross country team doesn’t look much like a rebuilding program at all. More than three-dozen runners turned out for the first season practice on Aug. 20, and, most pleasing to the coach, the vast majority of them were in shape.

That first day of practice, we could have raced,” he said.

That should be a scary thought for most Sequim opponents, although that may not be the impression Sequim gives considering what they’ve lost, Huff says. Gone are state champion Stephanie Marcy and other strong runners like Hannah Ohnstad and Jen Bruce.

But hot on their heels are a host of capable runners, including Alli Cutting. The sophomore-to-be wowed the track & field crowd by advancing to the state meet in the 800 and 1600. Last year she played soccer instead of running for the cross country team. This fall, she’s on Huff’s track to the cross country state meet.

“She’s almost going to step into Marcy’s shoes,” Huff says.

Heather Smith returns to the team after missing much of last season with injuries, while junior Laura Moser placed 44th at state and should be as strong this fall. Zoei Zbaraschuk, a sophomore this season, provides another swift runner for the varsity squad.

The X-factor for the girls may be freshman Audrey Lichten, daughter of track running coach Don Lichten. The frosh put up impressive times for Sequim Middle School’s cross country team and may push for varsity time.

On the boys’ side, a trio of juniors lead the pack, most notably Kenny Russell. As a sophomore, Russell finished 10th at last year’s class 2A state meet.

Huff says he’s undeniably the leader of the boys’ group.

“He’s not afraid to tell (his teammates) to step it up,” Huff says. “They take that leader to heart; they respect that leader. When they say ‘Step it up,’ it means as much as me telling them that.”

Right on his back are classmates Chris Consoliver and Alex Clifford, both of whom Huff says look to have fine seasons.

Returnees Breck Gault, Colby Robb and Tyler Wilson-Walters figure to provide solid finishes for the Wolves.

Newcomer Ben Ohnstad looks like a talented athlete, Huff says, as do sophomores Matt Rief and Sam Schwab.

Sequim’s boys also saw six freshmen turn out, providing key junior varsity bodies and prospects for the future.

The Wolves kick start their season Saturday at the Capital Invite in Olympia Sept. 8, then travel to Salt Creek Sept. 15 before their first league meet, slated for Sept. 19 in Silverdale against Olympic and new 2A foe Kingston.

All in all, Huff says with all the athletes they graduated and losing prospect Breck Barnes to a family move, the Wolves may not look like a formidable threat statewide.

“It’s tough to compare them to last year,” Huff says of his teams. “We might be kind of under the radar.”

Still, Huff expects his teams to be among the best in the state, provided they stay healthy.

Sequim High Wolves cross country
2006 finish: Girls — Olympic League champions, first at districts, 4th at state 2A meet; Boys — 5th at Olympic League meet, first at districts, 10th at state 2A meet
  • Head coach: Harold Huff (8th year)
  • Top returning runners: Girls — Alli Cutting, Christina Bruce, Laura Moser, Heather Smith, Zoei Zbaraschuk, Ashiyah Cays, Katrina Ignagni. Boys — Kenny Russell, Chris Consoliver, Alex Clifford, Breck Gault, Colby Robb, Tyler Wilson-Walters
  • Newcomers: Girls — Audrey Lichten, Meredith Roberts, Fallon Schneider; Boys — Ben Ohnstad, Matt Rief, Sam Schwab
  • Outlook: Sequim’s running program just seems to hit the ground running each year. Despite losing leader Shane Dinius, the boys’ team looks strong with a top crop of juniors led by Kenny Russell, Chris Consoliver and Alex Clifford. The girls have plenty of big meet experience and can look forward to another year with running vets Laura Moser and Christina Bruce. State berths for both teams, like last year, is not out of the question.
Key dates: Sept. 15 at Salt Creek Invitational; Sept. 19 at Olympic/Klahowya; Oct. 10 vs. Port Angeles/Port Townsend; Oct. 20 at Olympic League meet
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